Cerenia for dogs is an FDA-approved antiemetic preparation that also has mild analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic effects. Its active ingredient is Maropitant citrate, a molecule that works to inhibit the activities of neurokinin-1 or NK1 receptors. In 2007, the FDA approved the use of Cerenia in the management of motion sickness as well as vomiting in canine species. It is available in both injectable and oral tablet formulations with the injectable preparation being highly preferred because of its fast-acting mechanism of action.

While its principal indication is in the management of motion sickness, there are many canine disorders upon which its antiemetic action can be greatly beneficial. The formulation can only be given to hounds that are at least 16 weeks old, if for the prevention of motion sickness-associated vomiting, and 8 weeks old, if the drug is for the treatment of acute vomiting. Cerenia for dogs requires a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian.

dog feeling sick


Zoetis, the maker of Cerenia for dogs, lists vomiting as the principal indication of the canine drug. However, since vomiting is not really a disease, but rather a manifestation of a particular disease condition, Cerenia for dogs is often indicated as an adjunct to conventional treatment methodologies. Current literature indicates that Cerenia for dogs is indicated in the following:

  • Treatment of acute vomiting related to a variety of disease entities or conditions

The active ingredient of Cerenia for dogs, Maropitant, has been shown to be especially effective in the management of acute episodes of vomiting associated with gastroenteritis, cholangitis, acute pancreatitis, renal failure, parvovirus infection, and chemotherapy. Dogs that are given opioid pain relievers, for which vomiting is one of the classic side effects, can also benefit from the administration of Cerenia. Other conditions where vomiting is present and where Cerenia can be effective include uremia, pyometra, hypercalcemia, central nervous system disease, diabetic ketoacidosis, increased intracranial pressure, toxic agent poisoning, drug overdose, intestinal obstruction, adrenal insufficiency, and gastrointestinal neoplasia.

  • Prevention of vomiting related to motion sickness

The principal indication of Cerenia is in the prevention of vomiting related to motion sickness. When given two hours before travel time, the oral formulation of Cerenia can effectively prevent the occurrence of vomiting. If the injectable forms are used, the onset of action is shorter, usually within minutes. Its action is related to its ability to compete with the neurotransmitter that generally attaches to a certain receptor in the brain, effectively preventing the transmission of impulses to the vomiting center.

Benefits of Cerenia

The benefits of giving Cerenia to your dog include the following.

  • Prevents vomiting that is associated with a variety of canine diseases
  • Prevents vomiting associated with motion sickness
  • Promotes canine wellbeing by reducing, if not eliminating, the incidence of vomiting
  • Provides relief from vomiting without causing sedation
  • Supports other conventional treatments of canine diseases where one of the principal symptoms is vomiting

How Cerenia Works

Cerenia for dogs is an antiemetic or a drug that works to manage or prevent vomiting. To understand how Cerenia works, it is important to understand how vomiting occurs especially within the context of motion sickness since this is its principal indication.

The pathway linking motion sickness to vomiting is quite complex, but it has something to do with the way a certain part of the brain interprets conflicting signals coming from the vestibular system and the eyes. The vestibular system is located in the ear and is responsible for gathering sensory information about spatial orientation, equilibrium or balance, and motion. It sends information to the brain’s area postrema saying that the body is moving. However, the eyes send a very different message, saying the body is actually still.

Because of this conflicting sensory information, the area postrema will interpret it as the direct result of a neurotoxin. The brain will send an impulse to the chemoreceptor trigger zone which will then send a series of signals to the vomiting center located in the medulla oblongata.

Cerenia for dogs works by preventing the transmission of signals to the vomiting center. It does this by competitively antagonizing substance P, a neurotransmitter that is important in the triggering of the vomiting center. Normally, substance P binds to neurokinin 1 receptors found in both the chemoreceptor trigger zone and the vagus nerve emanating from the gut. Because Maropitant is structurally similar to substance P, it takes the place of this neurotransmitter in the NK1 receptor. This effectively prevents the transmission of emetogenic signals to the vomiting center.

Potential Side Effects

Maropitant has been shown to be a lot safer than other kinds of antiemetics primarily because it is highly specific to its target. Additionally, it doesn’t bind to other central nervous system receptors, thus limiting its effects to only those related to NK-1 receptor antagonism. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that it will not produce side effects in susceptible dogs. The following are some of the most common side effects associated with Cerenia for dogs.

  • Increased salivation and drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loose and watery bowel movement
  • Pain at the injection site (in cases of injectable Cerenia)
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Drowsiness

In addition to these side effects, it has also been shown that Cerenia for dogs can cause severe life-threatening hypersensitivity reactions known as anaphylaxis in 1 out of 10,000 dogs. It is imperative that you watch out for possible signs of severe allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing or labored breathing brought about by swelling of the airways. The tongue, lips, or the dog’s face may also be swollen. Skin changes such as rashes and hives may also be present. If you notice any of these manifestations, don’t hesitate to call your vet at once or better yet to bring your pet to the nearest vet facility with emergency services.

Things You Should Know about Cerenia

Cerenia for dogs is duly approved by the FDA in the management of vomiting of various causes, but most especially motion sickness in dogs. It should be given on an empty stomach at least an hour before administration, although you need to administer it with a small amount of food. If it is for the management of acute vomiting of various origin, Cerenia can be given for up to 5 consecutive days with a once-daily dosing. If it is for the prevention of vomiting related to motion sickness, the medicine should be administered 2 hours before traveling. This can be given for 2 consecutive days. If you need additional Cerenia, you need to rest your dog for about 3 days before giving it again for 2 consecutive days. Cerenia for dogs is only available with your vet’s prescription.

What You Should Tell Your Vet before He Prescribes Cerenia

Cerenia for dogs may be effective in the management of vomiting of various causes. However, there may be some issues upon which its use is contraindicated. It is important to inform your veterinarian if your dog has been diagnosed with liver dysfunction, cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, or even seizure disorders or epilepsy.

Dogs that have suspected obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as those that are currently receiving NSAIDs, behavior-modifying drugs, calcium channel blockers and anticonvulsants, should also be evaluated further as these may have an impact in the pharmacokinetics of Cerenia.

The drug has also never been extensively studied in dogs that are exclusively used for breeding purposes, dogs that are currently lactating or nursing, and dogs that are presently pregnant. As such, caution should always be exercised when giving Cerenia to these dogs. Hounds that have been known to have ingested toxic substances may have to be given other forms of antiemetics.

While these do not constitute absolute contraindications to the use of Cerenia for dogs, your veterinarian deserves the right to know the existence of these circumstances so he can determine whether your dog is a good candidate for receiving Cerenia or not.

How to Give Cerenia to Your Dog

The oral tablet formulation of Cerenia for dogs is available in 16-, 24-, 60-, and 160-milligram preparations. When used to treat acute vomiting, Cerenia can be given to dogs at least 2 months old. However, if the principal indication is to prevent vomiting associated with motion sickness, the minimum age of the dog that you can give Cerenia to is 4 months.

Cerenia tablets should be given 2 hours before traveling and should be mixed with a small amount of food, although the dog’s stomach should actually be empty by at least an hour before Cerenia administration.

vomiting dog

The current dosage recommendation is at 2 mg/kg body weight given once a day and can be repeated the following day. If additional treatment is required, the administration of Cerenia is delayed for 3 days before resuming for 2 consecutive days. The following is the dosage recommendation for prevention of vomiting related to motion sickness.

  • Dogs weighing 2.0 to 2.2 pounds – ½ of 16-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 2.3 to 3.3 pounds – ½ of 24-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 3.4 to 4.4 pounds – one 16-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 4.5 to 6.6 pounds – one 24-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 6.7 to 8.8 pounds – two 16-mg tablets
  • Dogs weighing 8.9 to 13.2 pounds – two 24-mg tablets
  • Dogs weighing 13.3 to 16.5 pounds – one 60-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 16.6 to 22.0 pounds – ½ of 160-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 22.1 to 33.0 pounds – two 60-mg tablets
  • Dogs weighing 33.1 to 44.0 pounds – one 160-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 44.1 to 66.0 pounds – one and one-half 160-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 66.1 to 88.0 pounds – two 160-mg tablets
  • Dogs weighing 88.1 to 132.0 pounds – three 160-mg tablets

If the problem is acute vomiting, Cerenia tablets can be given once daily that can run up to 5 days. This is for puppies between the ages of 2 and 7 months old. For puppies and dogs older than 7 months, Cerenia can be given daily until the resolution of the acute vomiting. The recommended dose is as follows.

  • Dogs weighing 8.0 to 8.8 pounds – ½ of 16-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 8.9 to 17.6 pounds – one 16-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 17.7 to 26.4 pounds – one 24-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 26.5 to 52.8 pounds – two 24-mg tablets
  • Dogs weighing 52.9 to 66.0 pounds – one 160-mg tablet
  • Dogs weighing 66.1 to 132.0 pounds – two 160-mg tablets

In the administration of Cerenia for dogs, it is best to lightly wrap it in a small cut of deli meat. As much as possible avoid using pill pockets, hard cheese, sausage, or even hot dogs as tablet delivery mechanism as these may delay the absorption of the drug.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

In case you forgot your dog’s daily dose of Cerenia, you should administer it at once. However, if it’s only a matter of a few hours before its next dose, forget the missed dose and proceed with the next dose instead. Under no circumstances should you double the dose that you’re going to administer in an attempt to compensate for the missed dose.

What to Do in Case of Cerenia Overdose

While it is safe, it is not uncommon for some dogs to develop toxicity to Cerenia often as a consequence of overdosing. These can include a reduction in the dog’s level of activity, tremors, nasal discharge, irregular breathing, loss of appetite, increased salivation, diarrhoea, or bloody stool. If you notice any of these manifestations, bring your dog to an emergency vet facility at once.

Some Drug Interactions

Behavioral medications, NSAIDs, calcium channel blockers, and anticonvulsants may interfere with the action of Cerenia for dogs. As such you should always inform your vet about these medications if ever your dog is taking them. Know also that nutritional and herbal supplements may have an impact in the action of Cerenia.

Cerenia for dogs is a safe and effective antiemetic medication designed specifically for dogs. It shows highly specific activity to its target receptor, the neurokinin-1 receptor, to help produce its antiemetic effects without causing other effects across the central nervous system. While it is generally safe, side effects and adverse reactions occur. As such, strict compliance with the dosage recommendations from your veterinarian is strongly advised.


Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!


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